May 4, 2023
Our Nest is a Mess
- as seen by -Julie Larsen
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) nest watching is a passion of ours. Whenever I visit Maine with my daughter, we stop by Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park near Freeport on Casco Bay, to see what some of our favorite birds of prey are up to.
The ospreys’ distinctive whistles and chirps echo from the forest behind us. Looking skyward, we watch a pair approach their usual spot high up in a stand of pines on Googins Island, landing one after the other as if they have their own private runway.
The raptors recently returned to the area, as they do each April, after wintering in South America. They have come back to set up their summer home, breed, lay eggs, and raise the season’s family. We’ve photographed many of their life events like teaching their young to fly and fish. This time, it is sprucing up their nest.
It appears the couple is performing an inspection. Then one takes off. The mate that has stayed behind squawks and calls after its partner with a message that seems to say “Hey, I need some help here. Our nest is a mess”.
Half an hour passes. The osprey on the nest gives up on sounding off, takes flight into the pines behind us, and returns with a perfect pile of sticks, just the size needed to fix up the untidy nest. The large bird flies back and forth for a good part of the afternoon repeating its efforts.
Ospreys are thought to return year after year to the same nest. After generations of adding to it, the raptors can end up with nests 10-13 feet deep and 3-6 feet in diameter according to Cornell’s All About Birds.
We hope the remodeling works. This year’s chicks should hatch in about a month or so, ready for their photo session on our next trip to Wolfe’s Neck Woods.